Vietnamese rice exports seen by UN set to remain near record

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Rice exports from Vietnam, the world's third-largest shipper of the grain, are set to remain near record levels this year, the United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organization said.

Shipments may be close to the all-time high of 7.7 million metric tons delivered in 2012, the Rome-based UN agency wrote in a country report on its website yesterday. As of mid-December, 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) were sown for the winter-spring paddy crop, compared with 875,300 hectares a year earlier, when growing areas experienced flooding, the FAO said. Planting for the winter-spring crop usually begins in November and runs until April.

"Favorable rains since November, particularly over large parts of the Mekong River Delta, a major rice-growing region in southern Vietnam, improved soil moisture and provided good conditions that allowed farmers to start plantings earlier than normal," the FAO said. "Early indications for the 2012-13 winter-spring paddy crop point to an increase in plantings."

Vietnam's rice harvest probably will feel only "minimal" effect from landslides and flooding caused by typhoon rains in October that affected 27,786 hectares of the grain along the northeastern coast, according to the report.

Paddy-rice production for last year may total a record 43.7 million tons, up 3 percent from 2011, the FAO said. The nation's corn harvest was pegged at 4.8 million tons, about 1 percent below the previous year's record crop, according to the report.

Vietnam's wheat imports in the 2012-13 marketing year begun July 1 may total 2.6 million tons and corn purchases may be 1.1 million tons, the FAO said.

"Total cereal imports are forecast to decrease slightly from the estimated level of 2011-12 but remain at a high level," the UN agency said.

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